172 Chifley to Attlee

Letter 28 May 1947,

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CO-OPERATION IN BRITISH COMMONWEALTH DEFENCE

I would refer to the discussions at the Conference of Prime Ministers last year on Responsibilities and Organisation for Commonwealth Defence, and to the views expressed by the Australian Government Representatives, both verbally and in documents submitted by them to the Conference.

2. In regard to the documents submitted by the United Kingdom, I said that it would be necessary to refer the proposals for detailed examination to the Australian Government's advisers, after which they would be considered by the Government. The proposals would then be reviewed and a memorandum based on the conclusions would be prepared in relation to the Australian machinery for further consideration on the Inter-Governmental level.

3. I am now forwarding a memorandum dated 23rd May, 1947, which contains the Australian Government's views and conclusions on:

Part I-Responsibilities for British Commonwealth Defence.

Part II-Machinery for Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence.

Part III-Australian Joint Service Staff in the United Kingdom.

Part IV-Australian Joint Service Staff in the United States.

In the succeeding paragraphs, I briefly traverse the main points in the Memorandum.

Part I- Responsibilities for British Commonwealth Defence

4. In regard to the requirements of a Main Support Area, the views expressed by me in London are repeated in paragraph 3. The establishment of Machinery for Cooperation referred to in Part 11 is an essential instrumentality for the examination of matters of mutual interest in this direction, though considerable progress has been made in Research and Development and Intelligence by direct discussions.

5. With reference to the responsibility for development and defence of Main Support Areas, as stated in paragraph 4, the primary responsibility of Australia for the development and defence of its territory is in accordance with the principle of responsibility for Local Defence accepted by the Self-Governing Dominions at the Imperial Conference of 1923.

6. On the development and defence of Regions of Strategic Responsibility, paragraph 5 repeats the views stated by me to the Conference on the method of approach to this question in the Pacific. It also refers to the provisions of the Australian - New Zealand Agreement and expresses the Australian Government's willingness that its Machinery should undertake the development of the defence aspect of matters relating to Regional Security in the Pacific in accordance with the principles and procedure outlined in Part II. Finally, as stated by me to the Prime Minister's Conference, it is recognised that, in the future, Australia must make a larger contribution towards the defence of the British Commonwealth in the Pacific. Commitments have already been undertaken in respect of the Guided Missiles Project and the Joint Intelligence Machinery. The Government is prepared to examine other measures relating to the development and defence of Australia as a main support area and the associated area of regional defence. These measures would be considered in relation to the priority and importance of other Defence proposals and commitments, and to the amount that can be provided for Defence.

7. The protection of lines of communication between Main Support Areas is dealt with in paragraph 6, and this again is a matter for initial examination by the machinery referred to in Part II.

8. In regard to Areas of Strategic Importance-Other than Main Support Areas, paragraph 7 outlines the broad principles to which the methods and procedure on political policy must conform, and observes that the machinery outlined in Part 11 provides a means by which military policy and measures can be examined and considered.

Part II-Machinery for Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence

9. Paragraph 8 refers to the principles on which a general measure of agreement was reached at the Conference of Prime Ministers and the conditions which any system must fulfil, and in paragraph 9 reference is made to the Australian Government's views as expressed by me at the Conference, and to certain additional conditions and principles.

10. In accordance with the principle that the system for co- operation should be based upon the national defence organisations to be maintained in the United Kingdom and in each Dominion, paragraph 10 outlines the Higher Defence Machinery on which the system will be based in so far as the Australian machinery is concerned. Paragraph 11 refers to the cardinal principles on which Australian Policy relating to machinery for co-operation is based, and paragraph 12 to the procedure relating to the use of the Australian Defence Machinery for matters of co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence. I would emphasize, as stated in paragraph 12, that the use of the Australian Machinery must be in accordance with paragraphs 8 to 11 and the procedure relating to representation must be as stated in paragraph 12. Accordingly, the Government of the United Kingdom is invited to maintain in Australia a joint Service Representative and Staff who will be accredited to the Defence Department on this basis. Reciprocally, as mentioned in paragraph 13, the Australian Government would welcome the right of similar representation on the same basis as mentioned in paragraphs 11 and 12 on the corresponding machinery of the United Kingdom, and would be glad to know whether the United Kingdom Government is agreeable to this.

11. Paragraph 14 refers to the adaptability of the Australian Higher Defence Machinery for the representation of other parties to a Regional Arrangement. This was demonstrated during the recent war when representatives of the United States Forces were integrated in the Australian machinery. Paragraph 15 expresses the view that the principles and procedure furnish a sound footing for adaptation in war.

Part III-Australian Joint Service Staff in the United Kingdom

12. Paragraph 16 refers to the status and functions of an Australian Defence Representative in the United Kingdom, one of the latter being:

'To be the Accredited Representative of the Australian Defence Department, the Defence Committee, and the Chiefs of Staff Committee, to their corresponding bodies in the United Kingdom.'

Paragraph 17 outlines the staff to be provided for the Defence Representative and their duties. The Australian Government would be glad of the United Kingdom Government's concurrence to its proposals for establishing a Joint Service Staff in London on the lines indicated. Paragraphs 18 and 19 relate to domestic matters of the channel of communication for the Defence Representative and his relation to Australian Service Representatives in London.

Part IV-Australian joint Service Staff in the United States

13. This Part relates to the parallel subject of an Australian Joint Service Staff in the United States. In regard to the accreditation of the Australian Defence Representative to the Combined Chiefs of Staff, if this body continues to exist in the post-war period, and to representation on the Military Staff Committee of the United Nations if, and when, invited, the Australian Government would wish to establish the closest liaison with the United Kingdom representatives on these bodies.

Attachment

Memorandum (extracts) [1] 23 May 1947

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CO-OPERATION IN BRITISH COMMONWEALTH DEFENCE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT MEMORANDUM

Part I-Responsibilities for British Commonwealth Defence

1. UNITED KINGDOM PROPOSALS 2.

The following were the proposals in document PMM.(46)5 which was submitted to the Prime Ministers' Conference by the United Kingdom Government:-

Each member of the Commonwealth should:-

(i) Accept responsibility for the development and defence of their Main Support Area and the strategic zone around it.

(ii) Accept the principle of joint responsibility between members of the Commonwealth concerned for the protection of lines of communication between Main Support Areas.

(iii) Agree that it is in their strategic interest to assist both politically and militarily in maintaining our position in those protective areas which directly affect the security of their territory and communications.

[matter omitted]

4. RESPONSIBILITY FOR DEVELOPMENT AND DEFENCE OF MAIN SUPPORT AREAS

The primary responsibility of Australia for the development and defence of its territory is in accordance with the principle of responsibility for Local Defence accepted by the Self-Governing Dominions at the Imperial Conference of 1923.

5. DEVELOPMENT AND DEFENCE or REGIONS OF STRATEGIC RESPONSIBILITY

(i) Basis of Approach The Australian Government's view on the method of approach to this question in the Pacific was stated as follows to the Prime Ministers' Conference:-

As indicated in the memorandum submitted to the Conference on Regional Security in the Pacific, including the use of bases by the United States, the view of the Australian Government is that the question of Bases must be related to an overall plan in which the United States should be associated in the maintenance of security in the Southwest Pacific.

If an arrangement can be reached with the United States, it should then be possible to prepare a strategical appreciation which would indicate the nature and strength of the forces to be provided by each of the parties to the agreement.

Planning relating to any regional arrangement will therefore be governed by the progress of political negotiations.

There should be assigned to the Australian Government Machinery responsibility for the development of the defence aspect of matters relating to Regional Security in the Pacific, in which the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand are concerned, and provision should be made for the representation of the United Kingdom and New Zealand at the appropriate levels on such machinery.

(ii) Provisions of Australian - New Zealand Agreement [2]

The Australian - New Zealand Agreement provides that:-

The two Governments agree that, within the framework of a general system of world security, a regional zone of defence comprising the Southwest and South Pacific Areas shall be established and that this zone should be based on Australia and New Zealand, stretching through the arc of islands north and north-east of Australia, to Western Samoa and the Cook Islands.

(iii) Australian Government's Conclusions In accordance with the foregoing, the Australian Government is willing that its machinery should undertake the development of the defence aspect of matters relating to Regional Security in the Pacific, in accordance with the principles and procedure outlined in Part II for the functioning of the Australian Higher Defence Machinery in this respect. The precise scope of the area to which this would apply will be ultimately determined by the area of any regional arrangement that may be reached.

As indicated above, the nature and strength of the forces to be provided by each of the parties to a regional arrangement would be stated in any agreement or understanding that may be reached. The acceptance of the responsibility for development of the defence aspect does not therefore imply the acceptance by the Australian Government of the commitment of providing all resources and forces required for the area concerned.

As stated by the Australian Prime Minister to the Prime Ministers' Conference, it is recognised that, in the future, Australia must make a larger contribution towards the defence of the British Commonwealth in the Pacific. Commitments have already been undertaken in respect of the Guided Missiles Project and the Joint Intelligence Machinery. The Government is prepared to examine other measures relating to the development and defence of Australia as a main support area and the associated area of regional defence. These measures would be considered in relation to the priority and importance of other Defence proposals and commitments, and to the amount that can be provided for Defence.

6. PROTECTION OF LINES OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN MAIN SUPPORT AREAS

As stated by the Australian Prime Minister at the Prime Ministers' Conference, the extent to which Australia is prepared to go in the acceptance of the principle of joint responsibility between members of the British Commonwealth concerned for the protection of lines of communication between Main Support Areas is a matter for examination in the light of other commitments and particularly those of a British Commonwealth nature which have already been or may be accepted.

The Australian Government appreciates that, parallel to the principle of responsibility for the Local Defence of its territory, there is also a primary obligation relating to the protection of the lines of communication within the area of the Australian Naval Station. In accordance with the terms of the Australian - New Zealand Agreement, it will co-operate with the New Zealand Government, whose area of naval responsibility is adjacent, and also with the United Kingdom Government whose area of naval responsibility borders on the Australian Naval Station.

7. AREAS OF STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE - OTHER THAN MAIN SUPPORT AREAS

The United Kingdom proposal in PMM.(46)5 is 'that each member of the British Commonwealth agree that it is in their strategic interest to assist both politically and militarily in maintaining our position in those protective areas which directly affect the security of their territory and communications'. The method of implementing this general principle is also stated in broad terms as follows-'each member of the Commonwealth therefore should agree to take all steps, political and military, in those areas in which they are directly concerned, so as to maintain conditions favourable to the Commonwealth in peace, and to accept joint responsibility for their defence in war'.

The practical application of this proposal involves several important considerations. As pointed out by the Australian Prime Minister at the Prime Ministers' conference, it absolutely impinges on the sovereign control of Policy by Governments, and this consideration must govern the method to be followed. The strategic position of each part of the Empire differs though, from the aspect of the collective security of the British Commonwealth, they are all linked to a common strategic basis. As stated in sub- paragraph 2(iii) above, the area of strategic importance of direct concern to Australia is South-East Asia.

The views of the Prime Ministers' Conference on methods of consultation and their flexibility to meet the varied situations and the individual and collective needs of members of the British Commonwealth were expressed as follows in the final communique of the Conference:-

The existing methods of consultation have proved their worth. They include a continuous exchange of information and comment between the different members of the Commonwealth. They are flexible and can be used to meet a variety of situations and needs, both those where the responsibility is on one member alone, and where the responsibility may have to be shared. They are peculiarly appropriate to the character of the British Commonwealth, with its independent members who have shown by their sacrifices in the common cause their devotion to kindred ideals and their community of outlook.

On the question of method, the following statement was submitted in document PMM.(46)8 on the principle of Australia acting from time to time on behalf of the British Commonwealth in matters relating to the Pacific:-

An entirely new concept in British Commonwealth relations is now emerging. This concept tends to reconcile full Dominion autonomy with full British Commonwealth co-operation. The same principle involves the possibility of a Dominion acting in certain regions or for certain purposes on behalf of the other Members of the British Commonwealth, including the United Kingdom itself. This is evidence that the machinery between nations of the British Commonwealth has now reached a stage where a common policy can be carried out through a chosen Dominion instrumentality in an area or in relation to a subject matter which is of primary concern to that Dominion. This principle is capable of extension and suggests the possible integration of British Commonwealth policy at a higher level by a new procedure.

In regard to South-East Asia as the area of strategic importance of direct concern to Australia, the following views of the Australian Government were expressed by the Minister for External Affairs in Parliament on 26th February 1947:-

I now wish to refer to a matter in which, I believe, all honourable members will be closely interested, namely, the changing situations in South-East Asia, India and the Far East.

They all merit close consideration by the House. The recent war gave to peoples of the whole of this area an opportunity for political development at a rate previously unprecedented... This general trend should not suprise any student of foreign affairs.

It is, in fact, in accord with the principles of the Atlantic Charter and the United Nations Charter, and, in particular, with the obligations of colony-possessing powers to promote the political development of non-self-governing or politically under- developed countries. Australia is directly concerned with these political developments and their consequences. Just as far as the peoples of South-East Asia cease to be dependent upon the decisions of European governments, so far do Australia's interests in the councils of South East Asia increase. We must work for a harmonious association of democratic states in the South-East Asia area and see in the development of their political maturity opportunity for greatly increased political, cultural and commercial co-operation.

It will be apparent that methods and procedure on political policy must conform to the broad principles that have been referred to above. The machinery outlined in this memorandum provides a means by which military policy and measures can be examined and considered.

Part II-Machinery for Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence

8. CONCLUSIONS OF PRIME MINISTERS' CONFERENCE

The Minutes of the tenth meeting of the Conference of Prime Ministers held on 2nd May 1946, record that 'there appeared to be a general measure of agreement on the broad principles at issue'.

The principles were outlined in document PMM.(46)20 as:-

(a) A centralised system of Commonwealth defence is unlikely to be generally acceptable and might restrict freedom of action of the individual members of the Commonwealth in making bilateral arrangements for co-operation with allies.

(b) We must, therefore, set up some looser system for co- ordination which, we suggest, should be based upon the national defence organisations to be maintained in the United Kingdom and in each Dominion.

(c) The essence of this system is that the United Kingdom should maintain a mission in each Dominion, while the Dominions should maintain similar missions in London and in other Dominions as required.

(d) It may not be possible to bring this system fully into operation immediately, but provided the essentials are agreed, the necessary framework upon which the full organisation could grow will be available.

It was also stated that any system devised must fulfil the following conditions:-

(i) Ensure that final co-ordination of, and executive decisions on, all matters of high defence policy are achieved by agreement between Governments of the United Kingdom and of the Dominions.

(ii) Provide the maximum degree of co-ordination on defence matters which the sovereign status of the members of the Commonwealth allows.

(iii) Provide for discussion of Dominion views on world security problems.

(iv) Be sufficiently flexible to cope with the varying outlooks and resources of the different countries of the Commonwealth.

(v) Be framed so as to allow the central direction of effort in war to be carried out from an alternative location to the United Kingdom.

(vi) Be capable of interlocking with that of the United States and possibly of other potential allies.

9. AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT'S VIEWS

At the Conference, the Australian Prime Minister stated that:-

(a) It is fundamental to future arrangements for co-operation in Defence that appropriate machinery should be created to provide for an effective voice by the Governments concerned in policy and in the higher control of planning on the official level.

(b) There should be assigned to the Australian Government Machinery, responsibility for the development of the defence aspect of matters relating to Regional Security in the Pacific, in which the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand are concerned, and provision should be made for the representation of the United Kingdom and New Zealand at the appropriate levels on such machinery.

(c) Corresponding provision would also be necessary for Dominion representation on any parallel machinery in the United Kingdom. On the official level, the Australian Government contemplates the strengthening of its Joint Service Staff in London, as a counterpart to the Defence Committee in Australia, and to provide an agency for advice to the Resident Minister in London on Defence matters.

(d) Consideration is also being given to the Australian Joint Service Staff requirements in Washington and at the seat of the United Nations. Development in this direction would depend on any arrangement reached with the United States and machinery which may be created for the purposes of implementing any agreement.

The Australian Government would also add the following conditions and principles to those referred to above in paragraph 8 and in this paragraph, to which the machinery for Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence must conform:-

(i) Be capable of functioning efficiently in war.

(ii) So function in peace that modifications necessary to meet condition (i) can be introduced automatically and without any disruption in the organisation.

(iii) Be capable of acting as the agents for the British Commonwealth, either in peace or war in respect of Forces assigned to the Australian Government and expansion, if necessary, to undertake 8 (v).

[matter omitted]

11. PRINCIPLES

Under the Declaration of the Imperial Conference of 1926, the sovereign control of Policy rests with the Government of each part of the British Commonwealth.

The Australian Government, in document PMM.(46)8, referred to the new concept in British Commonwealth relations which is now emerging 'where a common policy can be carried out through a chosen Dominion instrumentality in an area or in relation to a subject matter which is of primary concern to that Dominion. This principle is capable of extension and suggests the possible integration of British Commonwealth Policy at a higher level by a new procedure'. (See paragraph 7.) As mentioned in paragraph 9, the Australian Prime Minister emphasised to the Prime Ministers' Conference the following cardinal principles on which Australian Policy relating to machinery for co-operation is based:-

First, the Governments concerned must have an effective voice at an early stage in the formulation of Defence Policy and in the higher control of Planning. Secondly, responsibility for the development of the Defence aspect of matters relating to regional security in the Pacific should be assigned to the Australian Government machinery, on which provision would be made for United Kingdom and New Zealand representation. Thirdly, there should be Dominion representation in the United Kingdom machinery corresponding to any United Kingdom representation in the Australian machinery. [3]

12. PROCEDURE

The use of the Australian Defence Machinery for matters of Co- operation in British Commonwealth Defence will be in accordance with paragraphs 8 to 11, and the following procedure relating to representation thereon:-

(i) Government Representation The High Commissioners of the United Kingdom and New Zealand will be invited to attend meetings of the Council of Defence when matters affecting those parts of the British Commonwealth are under consideration.

As the sovereign control of its Policy is retained by each member of the British Commonwealth, and as the Council of Defence is a statutory advisory body to the Australian Government, any recommendations which it may make on subjects of a British Commonwealth relation are matters for consideration by the Governments concerned.

The proceedings of the Council will not limit, in any way, the channel of direct communication between Governments, though representatives of Governments will no doubt be authorised to express the views and decisions of their Governments on matters which have received the prior consideration of Governments, and on which they have been able to instruct their representatives.

Should it be preferred on any occasion, or for any matter, that a Minister should represent the United Kingdom or New Zealand Governments, this would be arranged.

(ii) Representation on the Official Level The Governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand are invited to maintain in Australia a Joint Service Representative and Staff who will be accredited to the Defence Department.

The general principle in regard to representation on the official level will be that the Joint Service Representative will be invited to attend meetings of the Defence Committee and Chiefs of Staff Committee when matters affecting his country are under consideration. Where necessary, he would also accompany his Governmental Representative to the Council of Defence as an adviser.

As each member of the British Commonwealth is responsible for its own Policy, and as the Defence Committee and Chiefs of Staff Committee are part of the machinery of the Australian Defence Department, which is administered by the Minister for Defence, the Joint Service Representative will be responsible to and instructed by his Government, High Commissioner, or Superior Service Authority in such a manner as his Government may prescribe.

Similarly, members of the staff of the joint Service Representative would be invited to attend meetings of the Joint Service Machinery subordinate to the Defence Committee and Chiefs of Staff Committee.

In view of the number of members of the British Commonwealth and nations of the Pacific which will probably be represented, it is essential that the number of persons authorised to attend and speak at the various committees should be kept as low as possible, and that only a single representative should be accredited to each of the committees on the various levels. By arrangement, according to the nature of the subject to be discussed, the Joint Service Representative could be accompanied by members of his staff, and, in cases where individual members of the staff are representing the Joint Service Representative on subordinate committees, they also could be accompanied by other members of the staff.

Should the United Kingdom and New Zealand also desire to maintain individual Service Representatives accredited to the Australian Service Departments in the same manner that Australian Service Representatives are accredited to the Admiralty, War Office and Air Ministry, this can be arranged. They should be clearly designated as such, and should hold lower rank than the Joint Service Representative accredited to the Defence Department.

13. RECIPROCAL ARRANGEMENTS

Reciprocally, the Australian Government would have the right of similar representation on the same basis as mentioned in paragraphs 11 and 12 on the corresponding machinery of the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Should matters dealt with by the Australian Government Machinery, in accordance with the principles and conditions referred to in paragraphs 8 and 9, give rise to questions having a relation to other parts of the British Commonwealth, the Australian Government would gladly extend an invitation to representatives of the other Dominions to participate on the same basis as the United Kingdom and New Zealand at any or all of the levels that have been mentioned. The Australian Government would welcome the opportunity of reciprocal representation should it be desired.

14. REPRESENTATION OF OTHER PARTIES TO A REGIONAL ARRANGEMENT

As stated in paragraph 5, the Australian Government's view on the method of approach to Regional Security in the Southwest Pacific is through an agreed plan between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and other nations with possessions in this area.

In accordance with sub-paragraph 8 (vi), the Australian Higher Defence Machinery is capable of expansion to provide for the representation of the United States and other nations, on the same principles as outlined for members of the British Commonwealth, in order to deal with the Defence aspect of Regional Security.

15. THE SITUATION IN WAR

The principles and procedure outlined are considered to establish a satisfactory basis on which to deal with matters of British Commonwealth co-operation in peace, and to furnish a sound footing for adaptation in war in the light of the particular circumstances then to be provided for.

[matter omitted]

1 Copies were also sent to the Prime Ministers of South Africa, New Zealand and Canada. Mackay gave a copy to S.B. Singh, Member for Defence in the Government of India.

2 January, 1944. See Volume VII 3 See Volume IX, Document 210.

[AA : A5954/1, 1850/1]